Tapas: Pinchos Morunos | Moorish Skewers

Pincho, or pinchito, means “little thorn” or “little skewer,” so pincho moruno roughly translates as Moorish kabobs and is a typical tapa of the Spanish autonomous communities of Andalusia and Extremadura. Being Muslims, the Moors made similar dishes with lamb. Christian Spain took their traditional spice mixes and applied them to preferred chicken and pork. During the summer, pinchitos are often served with bread, wedges of lemon, and wine. Usually, these skewers are made during the barbecue season. Steps 5 nd 6 of this recipe show how to make this delicious appetizer using the convenience of your indoor kitchen, rain or shine.

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Salo #1 | Dry Salted Pork Belly

Pork Belly with Skin

Even though true salo comes from the back of the pig, a thick pork belly with one or two thin layers of meat is what most of Ukrainians consider a treat as well. In any case, it’s a good start for homemade salo in Texas. There are different ways to make salo: dry and wet salting, using cold and hot brine, making it cold or hot smoked. Adding other ingredients to salt rub or brine changes the recipe from region to region. In Kharkov and Poltava region, I’ve seen salo made with salt and garlic only. In Western regions, black pepper and paprika are added to salt. The recipe below is my first experiment with local pork belly and dry salt rub and covers both variations.

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Soviet Korean-Style Carrot Salad

Korean-Style Spiced Carrot Salad

Korean-Style carrot salad is another phenomenon of Soviet cuisine nad my favorite way of eating carrots. Julienned carrots are seasoned with salt (and sugar if needed) and quickly marinated with spices, chili peppers, vinegar, and vegetable oil. Due to its popularity all over former Soviet republics and now internationally, there are variations for spices, the level of heat from chili peppers, for kinds of vinegar and oils to use, and where oil should be cold or hot. This recipe is my family version adapted to local, not very sweet carrots.

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Galician Pie Made in Texas

Empanada Gallega

Empanada Gallega is popular all over Spain and around the world, it is one of the most known Spanish dishes.

The dough is made of wheat flour, fat (lard or oil), and water. The base for the filling is sofrito — onions and peppers — plus seafood or meat. Empanada Gallega is served freshly cooked or cold, sliced into portions, as an appetizer or tapas. The most common versions of this pie are made with canned tuna, scallops, and chopped pork sausage. My absolute favorite are scallops.

Empanadas Gallega can be large or small, round or square; they can be shaped as a large crescent and named empanadillas. As it often happens with famous dishes, there are many recipes of this pie. Mine is based on the original recipe in Spanish from recetaempanadagallega.com, which is featured as one of the best recipes of this pie. It uses a very interesting cooking method to prepare vegetable filling — peppers and onions are poached in oil, strained, and the same flavored oil is used for making pie dough. Which is genius!

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Dukkah’s Exotic Charm

Grilled vegetables with labne and dukkah

Just reading the list of ingredients convinced me I have to make it: roasted hazelnuts and sunflower seeds, fennel and cumin seeds, dried green peppercorns, coriander seeds, sesame, nigella, sea salt, and sweet paprika. Ottolenghi suggests sprinkling this mix over leafy salads, roasted vegetables, bean pastes, and rice and legume dishes. “It adds an exotic charm,” — he says. And it’s true to the letter!

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Asustar el Pulpo! Scare an Octopus!

Pulpo a la Gallega

Treasures I bring home from my travels are mostly not material. They are memories, pictures, and recipes. I love traveling for many reasons, but seeing my friends who live far away is the most valuable experience. And sometimes, I am lucky to meet in real life people I knew for years virtually, which always feels magical to me. That’s why my last trip to Barcelona was so special. It completely changed my views on pastry world AND I finally have met in person two wonderful women I knew virtually for ages — Maria and Julia. Both of them are passionate about food and are my never-ending inspiration for traditional and modern Spanish dishes and desserts.
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